Friday, May 24, 2024

Durham biotech developing retina meds raises $4.5 million

A Durham-based company developing drugs to treat retinal diseases has raised an additional $4.5 million from investors.

Opus Genetics CEO Ben Yerxa said the company will use the money for clinical trials of its two most advanced drugs. “We sort of hunkered down and prioritized our top two programs that can generate some near-term clinical data,” said Yerxa.

Ben Yerxa

The company raised $19 million in seed capital in September 2021 from the Foundation Fighting Blindness RD fund, the Manning Family Foundation and Bios Partners and had $4 million in cash at the beginning of the year.

The new fundraising is an extension of the seed funding, says Yerxa, and also included an investment from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing noted that Opus wants to raise up to $20 million. “This round is going to stay open for a few months,” said Yerxa. “It’s looking like the largest seed funding ever if we raise an additional $20 million.”

LCA5, which combats early onset retinal degeneration, should begin producing clinical data later this summer, says Yerxa. The company should file documentation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the second drug, Best1, by the end of the year.

Inherited retinal diseases account for up to 20% of all blindness in individuals between the ages of 16 and 64. Opus Genetics believes an estimated 430,000 patients in the United States, and 5.5 million worldwide, are affected.

Opus Genetics is the first spin-off company internally conceived and launched by the RD Fund.

Chris Roush
Chris Roush
Chris Roush is executive editor of Business North Carolina. He can be reached at

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